Heritage Lottery Starting February 2018
Exploring the lives of Caribbean Elders from 1960 to present day
All About Me!
‘’All About Me” will be an innovative user led project initiated by older Croydon residents with a Caribbean background. They aim to produce a short film showing how the local heritage is a blend of social economic and political influences by reflecting upon their memories from arriving in Croydon in the 1960’s up to the present day. These people have lived through a period of significant change for the Borough becoming such an integral part of the fabric of modern Croydon that the impact of their Caribbean origins is often overlooked. A film, and a small exhibition related to its making, will showcase their personal stories comparing the experiences of these 1960’s immigrants with their lives today. Many of those who arrived in the UK between the late 1940s and early 1960s did not intend to stay permanently.
At the time, political independence from Britain seemed within reach for Caribbean territories, yet life under colonialism left many people feeling torn between two worlds.
Once in Britain, hostility and prejudice – at all levels of Society – thrust many migrants into a daily struggle for their rights as citizens.
The passage of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act in 1962 made social exclusion a political reality. Widely viewed as racially motivated, the Act introduced new restrictions on immigration from British colonies based on one’s ‘prospects of employment’.
Those who had once entered Britain legally as ostensibly equal members of British society were now under the scrutiny of the state as unwanted strangers.
In homes, workplaces, and public spaces adversity became a catalyst for new expressions of community and identity. Looking back we can see/with hindsight it is clear/anecdotal evidence from our interviews shows that a large proportion of Caribbean people who arrived in the UK before 1960 did not come with the intention of making this their permanent home. The 1950’s were a time when the Caribbean Territories were inching towards independence from British colonial rule, but economic migrants were, in theory, able to enter the UK to live and work as equal members of British society.
In reality, people were faced with hostility and prejudice, which made daily life a struggle. The 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act, which was widely seen as being racially motivated, underlined this social exclusion by placing restrictions on immigration based on an individual’s “prospects of employment” thus making changing former “British Caribbean” people into unwanted strangers.
Somehow/ unexpectedly/ with amazing resilience the migrants used this adversity as a catalyst to find new ways of expressing their identity, and that of their community, at home, in their workplaces and in public spaces. The accounts that follow have been deliberately left in the contributors own words and not edited I believe it is essential that people use their own words to tell their stories.
J Jeffers Director ASKI